MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL OUR SUBSCRIBERS
No. 12/23 SUBSCRIBER EDITION: please go to potatostorageinsight.com/subscribe to sign up as a Synopsis subscriber. Most of our bulletins are fully accessible only to our subscribers.
Welcome to our December subscribers' edition of Synopsis, PSI's latest update on potato storage news and technical developments.
It's been a busy few weeks recently with Harrogate and CUPGRA Conference, of which more below, and a hugely challenging period for anyone still with crop to lift. The rain has failed to relent so that has put a stop to many but not all attempts to complete harvest. There remain some significant areas still to lift and they are in the lap of the gods as to when that might be possible...
Those crops that have been in store for a while are starting to show signs of growth, even after successful MH treatments, so what was a steady start to the fogging season is now showing signs of gaining momentum. Our Best Practice summary this month focuses on getting the timing right for that first dose of suppressant.
Given some of the difficulties some have experienced with wet crops this year, but also knowing some other subscribers have been giving it a go, I have revisited the use of condenser dryers. It's in our monthly Technical Insight feature as I feel the topic might be a topical one for some members of our readership as we head into 2024.
This edition also sees a few additional updates on recently-announced activities with everything from the newly-launched Store Managers' Course to the recent, inaugural SPot storage project meeting in Wisbech. Please read on...
Finally, PSI would like to wish all our subscribers a Merry Christmas and a Happy & Prosperous 2024.
POTATO STORAGE INSIGHT (PSI) ACTIVITY
New 2024 Store Managers' Course details released
Harrogate, of which more below, was the venue for us to release full details of our 2024 Potato Store Managers' Course.
This is a participative course for growers and store managers who are involved in the day-to-day management of potato stores. The course follows a tried and tested format and will include talks, group discussions and practical interactive sessions, focusing on all aspects of potato storage. There will be opportunity for delegates to raise specific concerns and for these to be addressed during the course on a 1:1 or group basis. Delegate numbers are limited to 20*, so early application is recommended. There is a lower, early-bird rate available on all bookings received before 8 January.
New for the 2024 course is the option for course participants to take the BASIS Certificate in Crop Protection (Stored Potatoes) examination at extra cost. This can be booked at the outset or may be added immediately after completion of the course. Details are available at https://basis-reg.co.uk/documents/syllabuses/10920.pdf. The examination will take place on Tuesday 26 March 2024 at Bishop Burton College, York Road, Beverley, East Yorkshire HU17 8QG.
All the details for the course and the booking rates/deadlines are available on the PSI website at
PSI Store Managers' Course 2024 now booking! (potatostorageinsight.com). Thanks to those who have already booked - we will be in touch again in the New Year.
Thank you to everyone who stopped by to visit us on our stand at BP2023 last month. We had a busy two days made even more so by the need to speak/chair at the (very well attended) storage seminar session on the Wednesday morning, which was right in the middle of one of the busiest periods of the Show! My thanks to my better half, Caroline, for holding the PSI fort while I went off to speak...
Our lucky dip draw appeared to go down well with a variety of prizes being secured by visitors from far and wide. Some of you will be reading this by virtue of securing a free subscription to Synopsis and I hope you enjoy you monthly 'shot' of storage news.
Well done to James Harrison (pictured, right) who picked out the no. 50 ball to secure first prize of a store audit for his business in north east Norfolk. I'll be heading over that way in a few weeks' time, armed with my thermal image camera.
SPot storage initiative progress
Work continues on the SPoT storage initiative launched earlier in the autumn and this took the form most recently of a technical workshop at the Rugby Club in Wisbech, Cambs. About 50 attendees came along to hear speakers Mark Taylor of GB Potatoes, Simon Faulkner (SDF Agriculture), PSI's Adrian Cunnington and Roger Stones of NFU Energy give a varied summary of the work being done at the two sites that form part of the project and some details of how growers can change their storage for the better, be that lower running costs, improved control or quality - or all of those!
The project has continued to attract commercial partners and currently has commitments from GB Potatoes, Biofresh/Safestore, Certis Belchim, Cornerstone Systems, Crop Systems, Hutchinsons, NFU Energy, Potato Storage Treatments, PQC, Potato Storage Insight, Restrain, SDF Agriculture, S&S Pugh and Winters Lane Storage.
34th Annual CUPGRA Conference
Thanks to the teams at CUPGRA and NIAB for another very enjoyable conference held recently at Robinson College. Speakers from UK and international organisations took the stage to tackle the theme of 'Looking forward to disruptive solutions', culminating in an excellent address on food security by population biologist Professor Sir Charles Godfray from Oxford University.
It was good to see some new, young researchers being given chances to present on the main platform and in the workshop sessions.
Congratulations to Mark Stalham of MSPC who was awarded the John Green Award at the conference dinner for his outstanding contribution to applied potato research.
National Potato Industry Awards
The BP2023 gathering at Harrogate was also an excellent chance for another running of the National Potato Industry Awards, now operated under the banner of Potato Review magazine.
For a time and occasion when there have always been lots of others in the queue ahead of them, the ranks of the storage specialists from around the country did rather well for a change, which was great to see.
Hugely deserving winner of the Storage/Refrigeration award was agronomist/storage specialist Tim Kitson - see Technical Insight (also read this PNT article on Tim's fightback after an horrendous injury in 2019), whilst other post-harvest victors included:
Prof Harry Duncan Hescott-Meredith Memorial Award
Crop Systems/ Environmental/Sustainability Award
James Pitman Best Young Achiever
And I was very humbled and extremely chuffed to have been awarded the British Potato Industry Award... My thanks to everyone for their support over almost 40 years working in storage - and counting...
BEST PRACTICE for December/January
Sprout suppression: try not to jump the gun!
If they haven't already, many crops are likely to need to be treated for the first time with a sprout suppressant.
We touched on this in last month's bulletin, but make sure you make regular inspections so that you can optimise the treatment timing, remembering to allow time to equalise temperatures beforehand. Hopefully most crops will have received maleic hydrazide, where appropriate, which by all accounts is offering good protection against early dormancy break in store this year, for most varieties.
Timing the first dose into store on crops already carrying some kind of treatment can be tricky, as even when there looks to be movement, it can very often just be a false alarm. Place selected tubers (green tubers can be good to get an early 'heads-up') in accessible locations close to the stack and watch them closely over a number of days to see if any movement is true or simply perceived.
Try to make samples as representative as possible of tubers around the store. Don't just focus on the easy-to-reach box inside the door; try to include any less well ventilated or maybe occasionally damp tubers in your assessment too.
Assuming you have then decided you may need to treat the crop, ensure there is BASIS-qualified sign off on the application from your advisor or NAAC contractor and organise the application. Fogged products available are DMN (1-4 Sight); orange oil (Argos) or spearmint oil (Biox-M).